I remember Varsha had once said to me that I was a different person—a person who found it difficult to talk, to mingle, and one who finds discomfort in the easiest and simplest of matters. Maybe she’s right. Yesterday, I found her phone number I was searching for, and called up Varsha and I was asked to come over. I was nervous, which is so typical of me. I stopped over at the milk store to buy a packet of Pedas, I wore my best set of cloths and put on a friendly smile. This was it, I was going to face my friend again, after two entire years of complete separation….we were finally going to talk. We were going to talk— I hate that word…only the two of us…I wondered what I could say. I would be hearing Varsha’s voice again, closer and clearer, and hopefully, a lot more friendlier than it had been two years ago. I would be, once again, staring into her eyes, talking, laughing and sharing memories.
Mom said she would drop me at Varsha’s place and leave. I felt a nagging worry, queasiness that she was deserting me, the terror of abandonment….pretty childish right? I felt exactly like the first time that I entered into kindergarten. You know, when your parents leave you in Nursery school and wave you off, and you are suddenly faced with something you need to deal with alone? My problem is I cannot deal with things. I need people to be there to instruct, guide and teach me. Maybe my mother sensed I was feeling quite a bit uncomfortable and decided to hang around for sometime, in the Verandah, but she was clear that she would not intrude into our conversation.
The first fifteen minutes were spent in absolute silence. I never begin a conversation. I wait for the other person to start. And I waited for Varsha patiently. She waited for me. We occasionally threw smiles at each other, and I spent quite a lot of time staring at the dregs of Bounvita left behind in my teacup and took keen interest in the brass trophies Varsha’s brother had won in Lawn tennis competitions. Varsha stared at the TV, and coughed. Oh, god, why isn’t she speaking? Does she still hate me? Meanwhile, precious time is ticking away…I look at mother for support, but she is already engaged in animated conversation with Varsha’s mother. I have no choice. I have to be the one to start. I open my mouth, close it. I open my mouth again, twice, and say nothing. No words come, the silence is still haunting. Maybe someone should give me a pen. I could write a 50 page book, then and there….but why aren’t the words coming to my tongue? Finally, miraculously, out pops a feeble, “How’s college, Varsha?”
She’s now looking at me. She shrugs, and finally, the formalness melts, and Varsha’s casual tone creeps into her strong voice, “Fine, but worse than school, you know.”
I am relieved to hear her talking so normally again. So, here bursts out a successful conversation.
“Why don’t you come into my room, Lakshmi?”
That talk stretched for an hour. Suddenly, I was talking more. Mom wasen;t there beside me, but I was talking like the old times, with absolute ease. We had broken the ice, and we were talking so fast that we covered everything from college, school, friends, family, interests, academics in less than an hour. I did not believe that this could have been so easy, and I had restricted myself from doing this for two years. The topic reverted to school. She talked about everyone—even her enemies at school.
“You know,” she chuckled, “ It’s weird that the only people I hate are the people I like,”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s funny, it’s quite difficult to explain. It turns out that the people I usually quarrel with are often my best pals, get it?”
“Well, I cannot hate a person, you see…”
“No, I mean, it’s no one’s right to hate anyone else. No one deserves to be hated.”
“So, you did not hate me when I was in school?”
“Nah, you know, you were the one who just took it to the heart. I did not mean the things I said back then. You just take a lot of things literally. I don’t hate you.”
You see, this is why I like Varsha. She’s forgiving, and although she is stubborn in her views, she is clear in her expression. She admits things easily, confesses when necessary and lives with an open heart. She does not hide her feelings.
“I can be mean sometimes, I cannot help it, I am like that.” She says.
“You’re not a bad person, Varsha,”
“Well…” she says, analyzing herself, “It depends on how you look at it. I can be good, and I firmly believe that the things I do are right, but when the world thinks I am wrong, then I become a bad person….my college thinks I am a villain, just because I stand up and object the wrong things.”
The conversation drifted endlessly, and it reminded me of some of the old warmth that we shared. But, to be absolutely honest, the complete truth is that there is still an incompleteness, a void which cannot be filled. I doubt if anything can replace it. It’s wrong to expect too. We have grown up, and, well, we cannot possibly have retained all that innocence, those dreams, ambitions we had as children. We cannot forget that this is just ‘patch-up’ work and a conscious effort to regain a strained relationship. There is an air of artificial deliberateness, we are careful in our actions, and have control over our tongues. Somewhere, I cannot help but feel that the natural friendship which blossomed and united us unconsciously, fruitfully, has ended in carefully planned reunion, after two years. But I am happy that I finally reconciled, and for now, that is enough. Thanks, Varsha, for forgiving me….